Diegel, B. L. (2013). Perceptions of community college adjunct faculty and division chairpersons: Support, mentoring, and professional development to sustain academic quality. Community College Journal of Research & Practice, 37(8), 596-607. doi:10.1080/10668926.2012.720863
This dissertation explores the differences in perceptions of community college chair persons and adjunct faculty with respect to the support, mentoring, and professional development of adjuncts. The researcher conducted her investigation at a mid-sized rural community college and chose participants in the Humanities, English, and Science departments. The college had a contingent of adjunct faculty that comprised thirty percent of the teaching staff. The role of divisional chairpersons in the support, or non-support, of adjunct faculty is viewed through an interpretvist lens which allows for looking at multiple realities emanating from a common context. The research looked at the experiences and perceptions of fifteen adjunct faculty and three chair persons through a set of semi-structured interviews and focus groups. The study attempts to answer three questions: What is the perception of division chair people of adjunct faculty members on campus; What is the perception of adjunct faculty regarding the role of division chair people in providing teaching support, mentoring, and professional development opportunities; and What, if anything, do division chair people do to support or hinder adjunct faculty on campus. The social identity theory was used as a lens to understand how adjunct faculty perceived their roles at the college. The researcher noted that “taking the time to understand this culture from the perspective of the adjunct faculty will allow division chairs to better serve their needs which, in turn, will benefit students and academic departments in a positive way so learning and quality can thrive.” There were four roles identified for the chair persons – professional resource link, institutional authority or representative, and evaluator conducting ongoing assessment. The research identified three major findings concerning adjunct faculty needs – teaching preparedness, feeling valued, and communication. The limitations of the study were well-noted and there was no attempt to generalize the findings beyond the studied institution. The findings from the research may offer important insights to those that manage adjuncts and to institutional leaders where adjuncts are part of the community.